"A doubling in the number of women? There is hope"

Yurda Burghardt, Managing Director of Kerkhoff Experts, on professions where there is a shortage - and why gender has become a minor matter.

Industry magazine: What is the situation in industry regarding the advance of women into classic male domains?

Yurda Burghardt: In 2018, women in MINT professions accounted for about 15 percent of all employees. According to an IHS study in the same year, the proportion of female graduates in MINT subjects in Austria was around 36 percent. So there is reason to hope that in a few years the number of women in technical and scientific professions will double. Provided that all female graduates actually enter the profession.

Do you have an explanation for this?

Burghardt: The reason for this positive development is the many different initiatives and projects. For example, we have the Girlsday to get young women interested in technical professions. This gives young female school students an early insight into MINT professions. Or scholarships and internships are arranged for women interested in MINT courses of study. And since the topic of "female role models" plays a major role for young girls, there are various networks of women for women.

Do companies already rethink recruiting sufficiently?

Burghardt: In Austria, up to 20 percent of highly qualified MINT positions are unfilled, in Germany as much as 60 percent. Due to this shortage of skilled workers, gender no longer plays a role for most companies. For most companies, competence and personality are decisive criteria when it comes to recruiting new employees. Some companies would like to fill their vacancies in technical positions preferably with women. They know that there are relatively few women in these disciplines, but those who are interested are very good.

What does cognitive psychology say about work efficiency in mixed teams?

Burghardt: Both genders have different strengths and competencies that can be used synergistically in mixed teams. Studies show that mixed teams lead to higher performance in boardrooms. The decision-making process may be more complex and longer because different perspectives and opinions are discussed and negotiated in heterogeneous teams. But it is precisely the pros and cons that lead to better decisions and increase the quality of the results.

Industry Magazine 02/2020

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